My dad is my hero. He lives on a small farm outside of Hickman, Nebraska with a big organic vegetable garden and a collection of cows, chickens, sheep, goats, horses, barn cats, and a donkey named Oaty! Get it? Donkey-oaty! Oh and something like nine dogs at this point! I’m pretty sure he is the only dogsled racer in the state of Nebraska.

Yesterday he left a voice mail on my machine prompted by the question, “What do you love about your life?” His answer, “I can do whatever I want, whenever I want!” Thus the new interest in cooking fresh local foods from his garden and reading Michael Pollan. “But I’m retired,” he tells me, “You, have to work hard and save your money!” 

One of the many things I love about my dad is that he’s had this self taught quest for adventure and learning his entire life. He’s an avid reader and taught himself to be an artist, a sailor, a potter, a gardener, a farmer…

One time he rigged the vaccum cleaner hose to his snorkel mask, so he could practice his “Eskimo roll” in his kayak and still breathe underwater in our swimming pool! It worked and he got his roll down!

My dad

I love you dad. Thank you for being such a great father and for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for teaching me to see life as a great adventure and for supporting me through all the ups and downs.

Thank you for teaching me to appreciate beauty and nature and simple things. Thank you for being yourself. Thank you for giving me my life! I am so grateful for our relationship. Happy Father’s Day!

In honor of my father, Steven Charles Heilman, and all fathers, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day!

Although my dad has made many famous meals, I remember most fondly the Easter he prepared fish soup with a hearty homemade bread. The house smelled amazing, the grace was fitting, and we celebrated with our whole family.


Fish Soup Recipe

Serves 8

2 large onions
4-6 cloves garlic
olive oil
handfulls of tomatoes
handfulls of spinach
a handful of fresh basil
4 small salmon fillets
2 portions of rice noodles (or cooked grains)
2 pints of vegetable stock 


In a pot, sautee your onions and garlic with olive oil.  While this is happening, broil your salmon fillets for about 5 min, or until the skin comes easily off the salmon.

To your onions and garlic, add tomatoes and 2pt vegtable stock. Bring to a boil and then add the salmon. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the basil (chopped) and fresh spinach and rice noodles (cooked). Simmer for 5 more mins.

No need to serve with anything other than a bowl, a spoon and a large appetite! But it does go great with homemade bread!